The Collector Leif Preus

The Collector Leif Preus

Leif Preus, Selvportrett fotografert med Suttons panoramakamera, 1974. Preus museums samling

From 18.02.21
To 31.12.21

Do you miss Leif Preus and the old Preus Photo Museum? Or, on the contrary, you might wonder why the national photo museum is called Preus Museum? Why does one of the world’s biggest and most precious photo collections exist in Horten? 

This small exhibition might give you the answers!


Leif Preus (1928-2013) was an entrepreneur, businessman, photographer, collector and an enthusiastic conveyer of photo history. Perhaps you are old enough to have sent rolls of film in a red bag to Preus Foto AS for development? Or, perhaps you were working at the photo lab in Elgstien in Horten?

After eight years in the Marine, Preus started his own photography company in 1956. After a while, the company grew to become Norway’s biggest photography business, with a leading photography lab and its own chain store. Leif Preus soon realised the importance of having employees with knowledge about photography, and he was actively working towards building a photo museum. The major profits from Preus Foto AS enabled Preus to do a series of spectacular purchases during the 1970s and 1980s. He became a kind of celebrity within the market for rare cameras, vintage photographs and unique photobooks.

The collection became the foundation of ‘Preus Photo Museum’. The museum was opened in 1976, situated in Langgata in Horten. This was the previous location for Preus photo lab, which had to be relocated to a bigger space in Elgstien. One year after the opening, ‘Preus Photo Museum’, together with eight other museums in the world, was nominated for the «European Museum of the Year Award». In 1995 the collection was bought by the Norwegian state and became the foundation for the ‘Norwegian Museum of Photography – Preus Photo Museum’. The collection was then moved from Langgata to Karljohansvern in 1998. On the 26th of May 2001, the new national photo museum could welcome its visitors into the refurbished venue on the fourth floor at Karljohansvern in Horten. In 2005, the museum received its current name, Preus Museum.

This small exhibition can be found in one of the “strongrooms” within the exhibition venue, originally constructed to hold explosives. The room is big enough for two people in the same cohort.


Preus fotomuseum åpnet i Langgata i 1976. Allerede året etter ble museet innstilt til «European Museum of the Year Award» sammen med åtte andre museer i verden.

NMFF.005042.002 (2)
Leif Preus, Preus Foto AS - butikken i Storgata 44, Horten, ca. 1958-59. Preus museums samling
Leif Preus, Preus foto As, butikken i Storgata 44, 1960. Preus museums samling
Interiør av Preus fotomuseum
Leif Preus, Juleutstilling i fotobutikken, Storgt 44, 1970. Preus museums samling
Leif Preus, Filmfremkalling ved fotolaboratoriet i Elgstien. 
Leif Preus, Sorteringsavdelingen på fotolaboratoriet i Elgstien. Preus museums samling
Arbeidstegning av utstillingen (Andreas Kaardahl/Preus museum)
Fyrstikkeske med Preus foto-logo
Sjokolade med Preus foto-logo